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Saturday, June 18, 2011

So How Many Records Did YOU Set Friday?

We won't give him the win yet, but Rory McIlroy certainly made a case Friday that he's ready to claim a major. In case you didn't hear, his opening rounds of 65-66 allowed him to tie or set a few U.S. Open records:
  • He's the first player to post two opening rounds of 66 or better.
  • He's the fastest player ever to reach double digits. It took him only 26 holes to reach -10.
  • I think GC said he was also the fastest man to get to -11 (in 32 holes) and -12 (in 34 holes).
  • He's the only player ever to reach -13 at any point during a U.S. Open. (It only took him 35 holes.)
  • His 131 is the lowest 36-hole aggregate score ever, and his -11 is the lowest "relative to par" 36-hole score ever... and he did it with a double-bogey on his 36th hole, thank you very much.
  • His 6-shot lead over second-place Y.E. Yang ties Tiger for the largest 36-hole lead ever. (Tiger did it in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.)
And if you look at the other majors, only Henry Cotton has had a larger lead after 36 holes -- 9 shots at the 1934 Open Championship.

That 6-shot lead isn't insurmountable, of course. When Y.E. Yang beat Tiger in the 2009 PGA, he was 6 shots back at the halfway point... and now Yang is 6 shots back of McIlroy.

But McIlroy isn't Tiger, and the kid knows what it feels like to have a big lead and lose it. Yang's task isn't going to be an easy one.

To put this all in perspective, a quick look at U.S. Open scoring records is in order. The record relative to par was set by Tiger in 2000 when he shot -12 and beat runner-up Ernie Els by 15 shots. That was an aggregate score of 272, a record jointly held by Tiger and Jack Nicklaus (-8 in 1980), Lee Janzen (-8 in 1993), and Jim Furyk (-8 in 2003).

With a par of 71, four par rounds at the Congressional of 2011 would total 284 -- the same par score Graeme McDowell won with at Pebble last year. If Rory just shoots two even-par rounds from here out, he'd finish at 273. But if he can just manage to get just a couple more under par, he'll beat Tiger's "relative to par" record and the aggregate score record as well.

We won't give Rory the win yet... but be aware that we may be witnessing the fall of several more U.S. Open records by Sunday night. And if he manages to pull it off...

Tiger will have all the motivation he needs to get well soon.

U.S. Open scoring info courtesy of GC and Wikipedia.

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